The good, the bad and the ugly of volunteering

The good:

The nine basic rules for volunteer recognition published by http://handsonblog.org/. Simple and succinct advice about giving volunteers the honest, appropriate, timely recognition they deserve.

The bad:

1st Feb: If you want to volunteer to help at the Ryder Cup in Perthshire, Scotland, in 2014, you will be asked to pay £75 to register. Gleneagles Ryder Cup Volunteer Plan “Unacceptable” 

The ugly Postscript:

By 2nd Feb, the Ryder Cup had received 9000 volunteer applicants BBC News. There’s golf for you!

 

10 more inspiring quotes for volunteers

Quote

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” Helen Keller.

Thank you vInspired for 8 inspiring quotes for volunteers who make a difference.These words sum up so succinctly how I feel, that I was motivated to make a list of 10 of my favourite quotes. Here they are:

  • “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try” John F Kennedy
  • “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” Mark Twain
  • “When nothing in your life matters more than your own success you’ll likely have nothing in your life but your own success”  Steve Keating
  • “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” John F. Kennedy
  • “A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” Jim Watkins
  • “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill
  • “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Mahatma Gandhi
  • “Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together” Vincent Van Gogh
  • “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others” Pericles
  • “Make things that you believe in happen” Me

Celebrate the volunteers of London 2012

A short video celebrating the contribution 70,000 Games Makers made to the organisation and atmosphere of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games:  http://youtu.be/53ckZ8x75PU

Makes me feel honoured and proud to have been one of them.

Can we really deliver an Olympic Sporting Legacy?

If you want to have a go at athletics or hockey – or your kids want to take up cycling, rugby or football you will probably go to your local club. But this club will almost certainly be run by volunteers and will quite likely be close to reaching capacity. So, if we want to deliver a real sporting legacy of more children and adults taking up new sports, we need to find ways of building capacity.

I am proposing that we need a much more effective system for attracting and training volunteers to deliver entry-level sport.

Here is my idea: we don’t need senior (Level 3) coaches to deliver introductory sessions to newcomers – what we need are suitably trained volunteers that can inspire beginners and give them a positive and correct introduction to the sport. We should be putting much more emphasis in recruiting and training club helpers and new coaches to cope with Olympic-generated demand and free up the experienced coaches to concentrate on coaching elite club members. A good example of an effective training programme is England Athletics’ one-day “Leadership in running fitness” course.

Inspiration

The Olympic Games Makers have done wonders for the image of volunteering. If we can’t get sport volunteers to step forward now we never will. We need to build on the enthusiasm that we have from the Olympics to inspire volunteers to get involved and provide a pathway for them to do this. We should be making it easy for a dad to help at a cycling club or a university student to train as an athletics coach.

Recruitment

Clubs need coaches and team managers – and they also need volunteers to put out equipment, look after kit, manage membership systems and do a range of small jobs that you might not think of. If you are a club – how do you advertise these vacancies beyond your membership? If you are a potential volunteer, would you know where to look to get involved?

Welcome and preparation

Volunteers need to be nurtured. If they offer to help a club they should be welcomed with open arms and they need to know exactly what their job involves. Newcomers to coaching need to be trained by attending an Introductory or a Level 1 coaching course. As a minimum for certain roles they need to have safeguarding training. There is helpful Information on coaching courses here: http://sportscoachuk.org/

A fair relationship

Volunteers are entitled to enter into a fair relationship with the organisation they are supporting. The club needs a commitment from the volunteer to turn up at the agreed times and deliver. In turn, the volunteer needs to be properly managed and looked after. If we are to retain good volunteers they need:

  • affordable training – it’s right that volunteers make some investment in their own training, but £150 for a Level 1 Coaching course is a deterrent for many
  • a schedule that is workable for them and the club – volunteers have limited time available and fear of being asked to do too much is one of the major factors that puts people off volunteering. One idea: could a new helper be paired with another volunteer to job-share?
  • to be supervised and mentored – new coaches and other helpers need a contact they can turn to for ideas and advice
  • to be kept informed of how the part they are playing fits into what the club is doing as a whole

Clubs have needs too

In turn, the clubs are also going to need practical support to find and look after new volunteers. There is information on http://www.clubmark.org.uk/ about managing volunteers including an outline job description for a volunteer coordinator. This is a key post and one that needs to be filled by an enthusiastic and capable leader.

There is hope

Sport England has set up Sport Makers: http://www.sportmakers.co.uk/  as the official London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sports legacy. They are aiming to recruit 40,000 volunteers to help make sport happen. If you are looking to volunteer in sport then go to this website today!

The last word

Much of sport in the UK is currently delivered through clubs. These clubs need more volunteers to increase capacity for new participants.  I sincerely hope that we can harness the inspiration and deliver volunteers to the sports clubs to make sure we really do make the most of the buzz we are experiencing after an amazingly successful Olympic Games.

“Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.”  Let’s make our Olympic Sporting Legacy happen.

Please leave a comment with your legacy thoughts and ideas.

 

I’m not supposed to blog about being an Olympic volunteer but….

I must join in the debate about the potential good to come from the way volunteers have “made the Games”. Here are some of the things that are being said:

The Guardian Best bits-olympic-legacy-volunteering Panellist debate how to maintain an Olympic legacy for the voluntary sector.

“The Olympic volunteers’ great attitude is doing wonders for our national brand.” The Telegraph-The-Olympics-have-shown-Britain-is-a-can-do-nation

The Observer headline “How the spirit of the volunteers could be London’s greatest legacy”

Whilst I don’t think the volunteer selection process worked entirely smoothly, I do think the Games Maker volunteering programme is a huge success. From my view as a Team Leader in the Technology team, here’s why:

  • We are excited and proud to be associated with the ultimate sporting event
  • There is no distinction between volunteers and employees – we are all called Games Makers and we all wear the same uniform
  • We are well kitted out and well looked after on our shifts
  • We were trained effectively and know what we have to do
  • We get lots of chocolate!

When I stop spending 14 hour days travelling and working my shifts I look forward to continuing this discussion. In the meantime, please leave a comment and let me know what you think about the idea of a volunteering legacy.

 

Debate on the Olympic legacy for the voluntary sector

The Guardian Voluntary Sector Network held a live Q & A with a panel of experts today: The Olympic legacy for the voluntary sector. As both a volunteer manager and a Games Maker Team Leader, I think there are some very interesting points raised. Highlights for me are:

“the importance of getting it right; contacting people quickly, keeping them informed and making them feel valued.”

“the Olympics has raised the profile of volunteering in this country and empowered a lot of people to get involved and play a part in a unique event in London….I think LOCOG have been very successful in shifting perceptions that volunteers have real jobs and are senior, experienced professionals are not just being used for casual jobs.”

“LOCOG intentionally didn’t talk about volunteers but gave them a distinctive brand of Games Makers to reinforce they were the ones who made the Games happen.”

“the sense of pride and engagement people feel by being part of a movement is a great concept we should think about more when designing roles and developing programmes.”

See full questions and responses here.

Are you invisible?

  • Do you coach your kids’ football team every Saturday?
  • Are you a student doing your “volunteering” towards your Duke of Edinburgh award?
  • Have you marshalled at one sports event to get a free entry at another?
  • Are you a parent listening to children read at your own child’s school?
  • Have you joined a neighbourhood working party to clear a pond or maintain a local wild space?

Continue reading

The volunteering phenomenon of the decade

Every Saturday, about 12,000 people take part in 5km timed runs all over the UK. These events are completely free and are organised by volunteers. Yes, completely organised by volunteers! The events are called parkrun, and are the brainchild of an inspiring philanthropist who believes that it is everyone’s right to get up on a Saturday and run in a 5km timed event without paying for the pleasure.

Paul Sinton-Hewitt founded the Bushy Park run, in Teddington, with just 13 runners in 2004. In 2009 he won a Runner’s World Heroes award. This week’s Bushy Park parkrun attracted a record 1000 runners and the organisation is within sprinting distance of their millionth run. On current turnout it’s predicted to happen next weekend.

Even if you don’t run and aren’t at all interested in sport, parkruns are a shining example of what can be achieved when a group of motivated people are facilitated to make something happen. There has always been a pool of potential volunteers -runners – who collectively stood to gain from free runs. But parkrun’s runaway (!) success shows what can be achieved when a leader brings together the vision, the volunteers and a practical system that enables it to all happen. And it all happens every Saturday when armies of unskilled volunteers organise parkrun events all over the world.

Have you run in a parkrun?